Tehran: Visiting the two extremes: Ayatollah Khomeini Shrine and (Former) US Embassy "Spy Den".

Tehran: Visiting the Two Extremes- Ayatollah Khomeini Shrine and US Spy Den.

Travelling on the metro, we visited a huge complex just outside the metro station which is the shrine to the founder of the Islamic Revolution in Iran the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, now formally know as Imam Khomeini in Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini died in 1989 and a huge complex which contains a very large mosque and his memorial grave as well as the grave of his late wife are housed in this mosque.
When entering the mosque our shoes must be checked in, separated by gender, at a big booth which no check-in tag given upon deposit of our shoes. ( no one would want to steal my old "Crock" shoes! )
The whole mosque has large oriental carpets in every imaginable area where people walk. Inside the mosque is a party like atmosphere where a large crowd gathers as if it were a day at a family picnic. People camped out everywhere. 
In the middle of the area is a huge gated area where inside the area lies the tomb of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, covered with a green cloth and a large photograph. The bright lights and green colour give off an eerie and almost blinding effect on one's eyes. 
Banknotes of Iranian rials are scattered along inside the gate. Outside the gate are crowds in various forms of a queue waiting to pay their respects. When reaching the gate to peer inside, others were tapping on the gate, saying prayers and even kissing the gate while throwing banknotes among the other ones which littered the inside of the gate. No one seemed to mind that I was taking photographs inside. Perhaps it was seen as a compliment? I wonder what people there would have thought when they would come to know that I was an American?
Upon leaving the crowded area, heading toward the shoes deposit place, as I approached the man I gave my shoes to, I already spotted my shoes waiting for me as I was leaving. He certainly has a good memory!
Outside the complex are different kinds of eating establishments as well as little intimate picnic tables where I saw a few attractive guys sitting together, showing off their muscles, and proving their strength with an arm wrestling competition. The winner grabbing his own biceps proudly while all the others were smiling. It is fun to watch the cute and fashionable guys in Iran, knowing full well that only recently their clothing choices would have caused unwanted attention by the authorities. It is a breath of fresh air which I hopes will continue and not be squashed anytime soon.

On the other extreme, our driver announced that we would be passing by the former Embassy of the USA, also known as the US Spy den. Due to the traffic as well as the security forces in the area, we didn't want any attention given to us and therefore, we had to take photos from the inside of the vehicle as we drove by. 
The building and complex is closed, and along the wall are murals and various graffiti shaming the USA. One mural announced "Down with America" and another mural depicted Statue of Liberty with a deadly skull as the face. There were many more slogans written but we drove by too quickly to see them all as well as the endless traffic on the road.
It became a museum of shame for America and as a foreign policy blunder which happened over three decades ago and which is still being paid for today with no real lesson learned by the Americans.
Thankfully there seems to be a small wind of change blowing which will bring a rapprochement between the two foes and with a prayer, start a new friendship. Hopefully taking an example from each of our country's citizens as we have showed our friendship to each other for a long time now. Since the first day of being in Iran down to the immigration agent, stamping my passport at the exit with a genuine smile. "How do you find Iran?" he asked me. I replied that love Iran and want friendship forever. He continued smiling and we both waved as I parted the immigration desk. 


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